Master Gardner Update

Barb completed a Master Gardner course and yesterday was their first field trip. They went to Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan to tour their facilities. KSU has labs that analyzes soil and plant problem for farmers and the counties. The lab at KSU is also the main lab for the Great Plains Region and it was neat to take the tour and see what and how they do things.
The soil lab gets in samples each day and according to the desires of the farmer/gardener they dry and then grind the samples. The samples come about 50/50 from the gardeners and farmers. The farmers send most of their samples in right before they plant so the busy time for the lab is spring and fall. The remainder of the year is through the county extension offices and is garden soil. Mostly they extract and then measure things like Potassium and Nitrogen and Phosphorous in the soil. What starts out like a brown organic sample is reduced to a clear liquid for most of the tests. That same lab also does plant and water analysis. I guess the farmers need to know the nitrate levels of the plants they are going to grind up for feed and the water treatment facilities are concerned about the high nitrate levels in drinking water. The lab manager told of one small town that had six of the seven women in one community spontaneously aborted their pregnancies because of the high nitrate level in the drinking water. The one that didn't, drank bottled water mostly and used the public water only for household purposes other than drinking.
One nice thing about our trip was that one of my co-workers completed the class with Barb and I got to visit with him and talk about old times. There are a lot of things we have in common and both are willing to share our thoughts/memories and war stories. It made the trip a good time for me. I hope Barb enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie.
For me I enjoyed the walking tour we took from lunch back to the greenhouse on campus. We stopped and talked about some of the problems the plants and trees on campus have. It is a little late for most of the plants so we did focus more on trees. It is always funny to me that our tendency is to plant trees and then when the grass dies in the shade of the tree to put in sidewalks. Yep, that kills the tree and the cycle begins again. Cut down the old tree and plant grass and a new tree. Build sidewalks to keep from walking in the mud when the tree gets over 10 feet tall and then cut down the tree when the sidewalk kills the tree. Year after year. The Doctor that gave us the tour also asked why some plants up by the building were yellow. Duh, frost! She didn't like that answer then I said over watering. I got a lot of ribbing about thinking I could know as much as the plant Doctor but hey, I have lived 60 years in Kansas and know poison ivy three times out of four.
Better run and get some things done today. It is not near as nice as it has been. A cold front is moving through and it is cooling things off but didn't bring us any much needed moisture.

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